Think you might be deficient in vitamin C? A recent study suggests that you might be best checking your gums!

Read the latest research in nutrition and health here in this week’s Nutrition News.

Gums give indication of vitamin C status

Bleeding gums often point towards a condition called gingivitis, however, a recent study from the University of Washington suggests it could also be a sign of  vitamin C deficiency.

The research, covered by this article in Science Daily, studied 15 different clinical trials in six different countries. The researchers’ findings were that bleeding gums following gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal haemorrhaging were associated with vitamin C deficiency. What’s more, the researchers found that improving the levels of vitamin C in the bloodstream of the individuals appeared to reverse these symptoms.

The study’s lead author, Philippe Hujoel, a practicing dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry, said of the findings, “There was a time in the past when gingival bleeding was more generally considered to be a potential marker for a lack of vitamin C. But over time, that's been drowned out or marginalized by this overattention to treating the symptom of bleeding with brushing or flossing, rather than treating the cause”.

While this research shows association, it does not prove causation and more research would be needed to reach conclusive results, however, it is promising that further research is taking place after many years of overlooking the potential relationship between vitamin C deficiency and bleeding gums.

Omega 3 for hair growth

Our hair, skin and nails are hugely reliant on certain vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, selenium and zinc, in order to stay healthy but, now, an article by Medical News Today investigates whether omega 3 could also play a role in supporting normal hair growth.

The three main types of omega 3 are alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); the latter two of these main types is mostly found in fish and other seafood, whilst ALA can be found in plant-based oils such as flaxseed oil. According to the article, while research backing omega 3 fatty acids for hair growth is limited, there are a number of studies that highlight a potential link.

As well as supporting hair growth, there are also some studies that suggest omega 3 fatty acids could promote hair thickness with 90% of participants of a 2015 study cited in the article reporting thicker hair and reduced hair loss after bolstering omega 3 intake.

While research is limited surrounding omega 3 and hair support, omega 3 fatty acids are also suggested to play a positive role in a number of other functions in the body such as heart health, cognitive support and eye health.

Child’s diet could have a lasting impact into adulthood

Most people tend to think that so-called “puppy fat” is relatively harmless on a child and something they’ll just “grow out of” but a recent study by the University of California Riverside (UCR), as reported by Science Daily, has found that the impact of a child’s diet could last well into adulthood.

The study is said to be the first of its kind that shows a significant decrease in the amount and diversity of gut bacteria in mature subject studies who ate a unhealthy diet as juveniles, suggesting that too much fat and sugar as an infant could alter the gut health for life, regardless of a more healthy diet in later years.

Speaking of the study, UCR evolutionary physiologist Theodore Garland, said, “the effect we observed is equivalent to kids having a Western diet, high in fat and sugar and their gut microbiome still being affected up to six years after puberty”

Because the microbiome has an impact on the immune system, breaking down food and synthesising essential vitamins, the findings suggest that a child’s unhealthy diet could lead to significant health problems when they get older.

The researchers intend to repeat the study and evaluate samples at additional points in time to better understand at what point the changes in the microbiome start to take effect but the initial findings are cause for concern and highlight the importance of maintaining an healthy diet in childhood.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.